10 Ways to Make Sure Training Sticks

I recently asked readers to submit their burning leadership
development questions
. Those that get picked for a post will receive a free
copy of my eBook.

This question
from Sheryl:

“My staff and I have been trained on
different communication and learning styles.  How do we keep from falling
into the same habits and keep what we’ve learned in use?”

Great question,
and good for Sheryl for recognizing what usually happens after being training
in a new skill and wanting to proactively do something about it.

Here are 10
tips for making sure new habits stick after a training program:

1. Practice, practice, and more
Try this:
fold your arms the way your usually do. Unfold them. Now, fold them again,
except this time, fold them the opposite of how you normally would. Feels
pretty weird, doesn’t it? You really had to think about it.

Unfold them,
and do it again. Still weird, but a little less, right?

Repeat, 2-3
more times. Soon, you’ll be able to do it almost as fast, without having to
think about it.

However, if I
asked you to do it again tomorrow, chances are you’d be compelled to go back to
your old way, and it would just as hard to fold them the new way.

That little exercise
illustrates how hard it is to change our “old habits”.  It’s hard!

That’s why it’s
always good to build in practice time in a training program, in a safe
environment, to try out new skills. Then, you need to look for opportunities to
practice at work and home, until it starts to feel natural. It takes time and perseverance
– some say up to a year!

2. Identify the benefits of changing
(and the pitfalls).

See Is
that Development Goal Really Worth it?
Taking the time to consider the
implications of changing – or not changing – will help create the internal
motivation, ownership, and commitment to change.

3. Establish goals and write them
See The
Power of a Written Individual Development Plan

4. Share your goals with others. There is power in making a “public
declaration” – it helps hold you accountable. See Individual
Development Plans (IDPs) Are Worthless….

5. Establish a daily follow-up and
measurement mechanism.

See How
to Make sure you Achieve your 2014 Leadership Goals
. I’ve tried this and it

6. Schedule weekly, then monthly
check-ins with your team
Share what’s working, what’s not, how to overcome barriers, etc… keep it alive –
social reinforcement is powerful!

7. Share additional tips, articles, and
best practices.
training programs make these available for post-training reinforcement, and
some offer newsletters and blogs that you can subscribe to.

8. Do refresher training, or a “level
2” training.

9. Provide reinforcement. As the team’s leader, you can look
for ways to reward effort and behavior change, and at the risk of sounding
heavy-handed, make the new skills are a performance expectation. It’s a “carrot
and stick” approach, and many would say
ineffective – but I had to include it for the Aubrey Daniels fans out there.

10. Create “job aids”. Kind of like crib sheet for your new
skills – key steps, reminders, etc… It could be 3×5 laminated cards, screen
savers, whatever.

How about
other readers – any additional tips for making training and new skills stick?